Retro Let's Play: "Rocket Knight Adventures" (1993)

Discussion in 'Retro & Arcade' started by elvis, Jan 15, 2018.

  1. elvis

    elvis Old school old fool

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    Retro Let's Play for late January 2018: "Rocket Knight Adventures"

    Developed and published by Konami in 1993 for Sega Megadrive and Genesis consoles. "Rocket Knight Adventures" is currently ranked 9th on HG101's top 47,858 games of all time.
    http://hg101.kontek.net/top47858/top47858.htm

    Game designer Nobuya Nakazato had previously worked on many of the run-and-gun Contra titles, and was put in charge of a new title. The game sees an anthropomorphic opossum named Sparkster, equipped with his sword and jetpack, taking on an army of robots and pigs.

    The game mechanics are quite simple - Sparkster can either slash his sword to attack (with a low power projectile that launches from it to attack at distance), jump, cling to beams and branches with his opossum tail, or charge his jetpack to burst for a short amount of time, greatly damaging whatever he smashes in to. Game levels are often short and speedy, with a more substantial boss battle at the end waiting the player.

    Occasionally the title will switch from platformer style stages to a horizontal shoot 'em up of sorts, offering a bit of variety in the gameplay.

    The title brought some of Konami's tougher "run and gun" mechanics common to the brutal Contra games to a more casual audience. Reception at the time of release was positive, and the game sold very well. Despite it's success, a SNES version that was in development at the time was cancelled, and never appeared.

    Rocket Knight demonstrated quite a few advanced visual effects possible on the Sega Megadrive, and many of the developers who worked on it would go on to work for "Treasure", who would make some of the best Megadrive games ever designed. Spend some time watching the long play video below, and clear similarities to some of the effects used in famous titles like "Gunstar Heroes" would distil even further.

    A year later i 1994, a sequel did appear, called "Sparkster: Rocket Knight Adventures 2". This time it did make both Megadrive/Genesis as well as SNES/SuperFamicom. However the reception and reviews of the game weren't quite as good as the original, and the franchise stopped there. Sparkster would go on to appear in other Konami titles as a cameo character, but would never be resurrected again until 2008, where a 2.5D (3D graphics with 2D gameplay) would be released as a part remake, part new game. It's available on:

    Steam: http://store.steampowered.com/app/19030/Rocket_Knight/
    XBox 360: https://marketplace.xbox.com/en-au/Product/Rocket-Knight/66acd000-77fe-1000-9115-d80258410a02
    XBox One: https://www.microsoft.com/en-au/store/p/Rocket-Knight-/BPN5TS0DS1KD
    Playstation 3: https://store.playstation.com/en-au/product/EP0101-NPEB00186_00-RKPURCHASE000000

    However if you want to play the original, it's still a cheap buy on Megadrive. Alternatively, play it in your browser (Sega Genesis version): https://archive.org/details/sg_Rocket_Knight_Adventures_1993_Konami_US

    Controls:
    1: Start button (also pause in game)
    Control / Space: (A / C button): Attack
    Hold control / space and release while stationary: Spin attack
    Hold control/space and release while holding a direction: dash attack in that direction
    Alt: (B button): Jump

    More information:

    Hardcore Gaming 101: http://www.hardcoregaming101.net/rocket-knight-adventures/
    Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rocket_Knight_Adventures


    PAL (EU/AU) boxart, with a happy Sparkster:

    [​IMG]

    US Genesis box art, with a cranky Sparkster:

    [​IMG]

    Japanese Megadrive Box Art:

    [​IMG]

    Long play video:

     
    Last edited: Jan 20, 2018
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  2. DUO

    DUO Member

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    omg i loved this game on megadrive !
     
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  3. OP
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    elvis

    elvis Old school old fool

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    Did you ever play any of the sequels? If so, how do you think they compared?
     
  4. BurningFeetMan

    BurningFeetMan Member

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    Haha, the modern Iron Man movies totally ripped off that charge up sound!
     
  5. bYrd

    bYrd Member

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    I was playing Rocket Knight 2 the other day on my MD! Can see why the reception for the second wasn’t as strong; some levels are tedious and quite short, although varied in design and layout
     
  6. OP
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    elvis

    elvis Old school old fool

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    Agreed. I've only played the second game. It was on SNES, so much prettier than the MD version, but even so comparing it to the long play, it's clear the first game was better. I wonder if the second was a rushed cash in? Typically in the early 90s sequels usually got more time and money because they'd proven themselves, rather than being rushed/cheap tack ons.

    I'm keen to play the original. Plan to put a few hours into it on the weekend.
     
  7. baronbaldric

    baronbaldric Member

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    Tried to play this and it's too hard for me. Can't even beat the first boss!
     
  8. OP
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    elvis

    elvis Old school old fool

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    Did you play in a browser? This game is much better on a control pad or joystick, due to its fast paced, action style.

    Also, check out the longplay video for tips on enemy patterns.
     
    Last edited: Jan 17, 2018
  9. AMLagonda

    AMLagonda Member

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    gees used to play this all the time on my sega, I still have the game...
     
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  10. Cape_Horn

    Cape_Horn Member

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    Such fond memories of this game on my Mega Drive.
    Never did manage to finish it, and I don't think I even thought about it over the last 10 years.

    Will have to go and fire it up in the browser and give it a whirl

    Thanks for the memories.
     
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  11. Grant

    Grant Member

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    Played this for about 15 minutes on a Mega Drive, but I only had a fairly unresponsive joypad to work with - it took me a while to get over the first cliff, since the controller didn't like diagonals.

    I got up to level 2 where there was a sequence of diagonal jumps needed though, and couldn't really proceed.

    Fun game though - never played it before :thumbup:
     
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  12. breech

    breech Member

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    I'm having fun with this - definitely need a decent controller that can do diagonals properly - the original 3B pad would not be good enough. Its probably more enjoyable if you don't watch vids before playing, its better to discover the hidden 1ups and learn the patterns yourself. Heres a trick for the first boss to get you started:
    bridge: when he stretches up fly past him..
    water: stay in the middle..
     
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  13. OP
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    elvis

    elvis Old school old fool

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    I've been putting off region modding my Megadrive for ages, and this finally gave me the motivation to do that. 2 hours of fighting to remove the RF encoder (seriously) to make space for a switch, and 5 minutes to put the 3-position switch in for the region mod.

    Once done, I used my Tototek flash cart (purchased loooong before Krikzz ever made his awesome Everdrive units) to fire up this game.

    It's quite the fast game, and the NTSC 60Hz mod is substantially harder than the PAL 50Hz as a result. All the same, the first level and bosses didn't present any challenge at all, and I immediately lost all my lives trying to work out the fire patterns inside the castle the second level. I'll definitely give that another try and see if I can progress further.

    Graphics wise, it's always interesting to compared the Megadrive and the SNES. The SNES wins on colour palette, offering far more colours overall as well as onscreen at once. The SNES also has it's funky Mode 7 effects to do cool things. But the Megadrive has a higher resolution in game (the SNES can match it, but few developers use that mode as it slows down the hardware too much), and expert developers like Konami/Treasure can really overcome the Megadrive's limitations.

    Comparing Sparkster (the sequel) on SNES to Rocket Knight Adventures on Megadrive, I'd easily give the award to the Megadrive original. Even with the Megadrive's limited palette and worse sound hardware, the game is far more fun than its sequel.
     
  14. OP
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    elvis

    elvis Old school old fool

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    Finally worked out the fire patterns of what turns out to be the last half of the first level (it wasn't the second level as I assumed). Once I was past that, things got easy again. The boss for level 1 was pretty straight forward.

    The train boss of the second level gave me a bunch of grief though, as I wasted too many hits working out its patterns, and died on the third phase. Will give it another crack later in the day.

    I'm jumping between the US and JP versions of the game each time I attempt it, and the differences are cosmetic. This came out in the height of the "Play It Loud" early 90's marketing hype, where everything gaming related in the US had to be jam packed full of attitude and teen angst. It's very clear how this affected Rocket Knight Adventures. In the Japanese version, Sparkster is cute and smiley, rescues the villagers in the opening sequence, and the level intros show little characters playing instruments. In the US version, Sparkster is angsty and frowny, and the cut scenes are more confrontational, and everything seems like it's trying to be more "tough".

     
  15. OP
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    elvis

    elvis Old school old fool

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    Haha, I'm an idiot! I dug through my Megadrive cartridge stash today, and it turns out I have an original Rocket Knight Adventures PAL cartridge, boxed with instruction manual! I don't even recall buying that, but yay!

    [​IMG]
     
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  16. Grant

    Grant Member

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    Nice! Is there actually a difference in the game between the Europe and US releases, or does it play exactly like the US version on a 60hz console? The console I've been playing it on is a language-modded Japanese one, ie. US.
     
  17. OP
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    elvis

    elvis Old school old fool

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    PAL version has the US in-game graphics, intros, cutscenes, etc. Flicking over to 60Hz, the first 2 levels look and feel identical to the US ROM I played.

    PAL version's box art has the same "Happy Sparkster" as the JP version, but that's the only similarity that I can see to anything of the JP version.
     
  18. OP
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    elvis

    elvis Old school old fool

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    Good retrospective on all 4 of the games in the series, detailing the differences, highs and lows:

     
  19. cowboyjai

    cowboyjai Member

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    I played the second one (Sparkster) on the MD and thought it was a good game. There is a cool Dragonball Z/Sonic thing where you can collect 7 (I think) hidden swords and then you turn into Gold Sparkster at the end of the game. I am 99% sure the MD and SNES versions of it are entirely different games.

    Never actually played the first game, maybe I'll get on it.
     
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